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April 2021 Editions

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Across Maryland, bars and restaurants are hurting. Among those who have been hurting the worst are those in Baltimore City where Mayor Brandon Scott has imposed some of the tightest restrictions and longest lockdowns in the state. To the rescue has been The Famous Fund, which has been disbursing thousands of dollars to eating and drinking places in Charm City -- and garnering national headlines for doing so -- since its inception back in January.

The fund started as a wager between John Minadakis, owner and President of Jimmy's Famous Seafood, and Barstool Sports site owner David Portnoy, who is currently doing a national fund in support of struggling eating and drinking places. The bet was on the Baltimore Ravens vs. the Buffalo Bills playoff football game back on Jan. 16. If the Ravens won, Portnoy would have saved one restaurant in the city of Baltimore.

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Dwayne Johnson at Destileria Teremana. Photo courtesy of Destileria Teremana

Dwayne Johnson at Destileria Teremana. Photo courtesy of Destileria Teremana

There’s a gold rush in Mexico as a growing number of famous personalities launch tequila and mezcal brands—but which ones will have staying power?

By Jack Robertiello


When Keeping up with the Kardashians star and fashion mogul Kendall Jenner announced in February that she was the force behind 818 Tequila, social media exploded with accusations of cultural appropriation and then counterclaims of sexism.

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Posted by on in April 2021 Editions

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"Giant Food is great for my business. It's the anchor of my shopping center. But I'm two doors down. If they were permitted to sell beer and wine, I would be out of business!"

So says Joe Gray, proprietor of Festival Wine & Spirits in Annapolis' Festival at Riva Shopping Center. Gray is one of many packaged goods store operators statewide who's alarmed that the Legislature year in and year out considers allowing major supermarkets and big-box retailers to sell beer, wine, and possibly spirits.

"I don't think people understand the ramifications of what chain stores can do to small businesses," he told me during a recent interview. "When big chains take over and push out the mom-and-pops, customers lose variety. They lose service. You won't go into a grocery store and find somebody like me there to explain a wine to you. You completely lose that kind of service. The variety will suffer too. A chain store will basically go towards the streamlined stuff. I don't know if consumers or legislators really understand that."

But it's part of Gray's side job as President of the Anne Arundel County Licensed Beverage Association (AACLBA), an affiliate of the Maryland State Licensed Beverage Association, to make as many people understand as possible. It's all about getting the word out and showing strength in numbers.

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Photograph Courtesy of istock.

As legalization increases, major beverage alcohol companies are investing in cannabis beverages. Could this help legitimize the category?

By Ryan Malkin


The tide is changing for cannabis in the U.S., and the beverage alcohol industry is noticing—and increasingly, getting in on the game. Cannabis sales in the U.S. are expected to reach $16.2 billion in 2021, with cannabis beverage sales comprising $1 billion of that, according to BDS Analytics. 

These blockbuster sales come as cannabis legalization becomes far more widespread; only three states—Idaho, Kansas, and Nebraska—lack some form of legal cannabis, according to the National Cannabis Industry Association. New Jersey and Arizona, among others, passed adult recreational use of cannabis this past November, and New York is poised to be next.

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Posted by on in April 2021 Editions

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As I write this, we are a year to the day after Maryland Governor Hogan imposed his first of numerous covid-19 emergency orders restricting the freedoms and liberties of citizens and their businesses.  The initial plan was to reduce the pending run on hospital beds.   Citizens considered the 15 day emergency order that would flatten the curve and slow the spread reasonable ... especially when sold images of ambulances lined up outside hospitals and freezer trucks filled to capacity with occupied body bags.  

Today, one year later and a far cry from hospitals being at capacity, Governor Hogan’s latest decree has, “lifted most of the state’s restrictions on economic activity.”  This most recent diktat removes capacity limits on restaurants and bars.   Or does it?   The order still requires that on-premise patrons must be seated, tables must be at least six feet apart, and masking as well as distancing requirements remain in effect.  “Patrons may not stand at a crowded bar,” Hogan instructed.  

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